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Arctic Race of Norway. Stage 3. Alexey Lutsenko is 3rd at queen stage

All Astana Pro Team and its leader Alexey Lutsenko showed a solid performance today at the queen stage of the Arctic Race of Norway with a summit finish atop short but super steep 3.5-km-long climb Storheia Summit in Melbu. 

After a big battle on the steepest slopes of the final climb, Alexey Lutsenko finished 3rd, behind the stage winner Odd Christian Eiking.

- The last climb was very tough; it was all about the legs and I just gave my all pushing as hard as possible. I finished third, but I have no regret as I did my best. I want to thank the whole team for today, the guys did absolutely amazing job for me. Yuriy Natarov was one of the strongest today, pulling all day long in front of the peloton and chasing the break. Also, in the final I’ve got a big help from Hugo Houle, that was great! Yeah, it was the queen stage, but not the last one. We still have another day tomorrow and I think we still have the chances to try something. For sure we will keep on fighting!– said Alexey Lutsenko.

- Our team did an impressive race from start to finish. When a breakaway went away, we took the responsibility in the race on ourselves, while Yuriy Natarov was really strong, working hard in front of the bunch. In the final Hugo Houle helped Alexey to drop race leader Van der Poel, pulling the leading group until the last kilometer. We missed just a little to take the lead in the race, but we knew that Barguil was one of the key rivals for us immediately from the first stage. That was the reason we tried to collect as much bonus seconds as possible. So, another difficult stage is waiting for us tomorrow and we are looking forward on it. We have good positions in the general classification with Alexey Lutsenko, but also with Hugo Houle and Magnus Cort, so for sure we will try something tomorrow, - added Dmitriy Fofonov, sports manager of Astana Pro Team.

Controlling the race and chasing the daily breakaway back, Astana Pro Team prepared for Alexey Lutsenko a good position at the bottom of the last climb. Then, Lutsenko did a strong move and only three riders could follow him: Odd Christian Eiking, Warren Barguil and another Astana’s rider Hugo Houle. 

Houle did a great job in front of the leading group setting the pace until 1.2 km to go. The Kazakh champion tried to attack, but both rivals were able to answer to that move. Three leaders reached the last 400 meters of the distance all together and then Eiking launched a strong counterattack to win the stage. Barguil finished 5 seconds behind Eiking, while Lutsenko closed the Top-3 of the stage 13 seconds behind the stage winner. Hugo Houle was 6th, while Magnus Cort did 10th. 

With only one stage to go Alexey Lutsenko is second in the general classification, just 3 seconds behind Barguil, the new overall leader. Hugo Houle is now 5th (+0.30) and Magnus Cort is 6th (+0.35). Astana leads the team’s classification.

The final, 4th stage of the race will be held tomorrow: 165.5 km from Lødingen to Narvik.

Photo credit: © Arctic Race of Norway/Pauline Ballet

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